By Lisa Major
Each day, people are inundated with advertisements on social media, in the car, while watching television, and so forth. According to this article, consumers see and or hear between 6,000-10,000 ads per day. But do those ads really make an impact? Probably not. After a while, all the advertising noise becomes a fuzzy, saturated blur in consumers’ minds. Hence, traditional ads don’t carry the weight that they once did.
Today’s consumers want to feel something, anything, that is uplifting, fun, positive, or helpful in some way. They crave experiences, whether it’s a “try it before you buy it,” a tug on the heartstrings, or fun and memorable experiences like the Share a Coke experiential marketing tour. These personalized experiences foster emotional connections, create brand awareness, and resonate with consumers long after the brand experience is over, which builds loyalty.
Experiential is a powerful strategy because even though it is a form of advertising, the presentation is so subtle that it doesn’t feel like an ad – and consumers dig that. Brand experiences are designed to allow the consumer to have fun with the brand, create a memory, or try a product instead of shoving the brand in their face and saying, “buy me.”
Memory is a powerful tool when it comes to brand awareness and event success. When brands create a memorable experience, consumers walk away with a detailed visual map of the experience. The sights, the sounds, interactions with brand ambassadors, and so forth all resonate. These moments translate into a brand impression, which leads to the potential for a new loyal customer. Additionally, it opens the opportunity for consumers to share the experience, online and offline, creating even more awareness.
Tip: Memories are not always positive. Therefore, attention to detail is critical. Cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Don’t rush through the planning stages, vet your vendors, and make sure you train the people representing your brand.
Experiential marketing creates an emotional bond between brands and consumers, which in turn, fosters trust, loyalty, and community. This is important because when consumers feel emotionally connected to a brand, they are more likely to purchase their products or services.
Tip: Brands need to identify their target consumer and create experiences that cater to them. Pinpointing their interests, what they like and dislike, and what matters to them is crucial.
An engaging experience fuels reach. When brands create experiences that get people talking, it opens opportunities to continue the story via blog posts, social media, and email campaigns. Experiential is unique because it provides consumers with a substantial offline experience that immediately turns into an online conversation. And those conversations can reach thousands of people, thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes.
Tip: Creating a hashtag or using a Snapchat geo-filter is an excellent way for brands to extend consumer to consumer reach.
Experiential marketing differs from traditional forms of advertising in that it’s completely voluntary. It harnesses the things that people want, and the experience is the “ad.” Obtrusive ad experiences like the ones found on music apps, social media, and the like typically don’t make much of an impact because people tune them out until they can get back to what they were there for – music, entertainment, connections, or a break.
Tip: When brands create integrated and interactive experiences that people choose to participate in, it holds their attention. Design your experience based on consumer FOMO (fear of missing out) and offer something tangible or intangible that they can’t resist.
People always look out for the motivation behind specific actions. Is this a scam? Are they trying to sell me something? But that’s not the case with experiential marketing because it exudes authenticity and it’s up to the consumer to decide whether they will become a customer after an interaction.
Rarely does a sales transaction ever take place in experiential marketing, nor should it. Brands that offer a fun and positive experience gain consumer trust and loyalty. Whether it’s giving away samples, providing immersive and interactive elements, or offering a gift card, those moments tend to stick. Additionally, utilizing brand ambassadors who can nurture relationships and convey brand messaging without being pushy is vital.
Tip: Don’t be too pushy trying to make a sale; instead, create messaging that educates consumers. And make sure your brand ambassadors are personable and experienced. Experienced brand ambassadors know how to engage consumers without sounding too salesy.
As the saying goes, work smarter, not harder. Experiential activations allow brands to leverage one experience and turn it into something huge – something that creates brand loyalty, trust, reach, and full-blown social movements.
Since 2002, ATN Event Staffing has been the event staffing company of choice for experiential and event marketing campaigns. Our exceptional brand ambassadors will take your brand activation to the next level by creating unforgettable interactions that build brand awareness and foster brand loyalty.
*Original publish date, May 2018; updated November 2020.